Thursday, 29 November 2012

Year End?

The end of term is looming at Nottingham, but my work is just beginning. I've got confirmation that my Red Tide course will be going ahead in Oman, and I might be meeting up with a couple of other companies whilst I am over there to discuss things which will fill the month I have before the students return. I've got a few other things in the pipeline in the Gulf as well, including a course for lab staff on waste-water chemical and microbiological analysis next summer.

I analysed some samples from the misbehaving Indian restaurant package plant last Friday which suggest that they have finally stopped using highly alkaline industrial cleaners, and otherwise following the operating guidance we offered. Though their home-made grease trap is still not doing that good a job, I am hopeful that we might now start to see an improvement in performance.

The process design course has gone down very well with the first years at Nottingham, after Xmas I'll be teaching the same subject to the second years. I've taken over as head of the Careers and Industry team at Nottingham, so more interested than ever in fostering links between academia and industry, though not in the usual direction of academics of going to industry with our hands out for research funds. I'm looking to find out what industry want our students to know and to be able to do.

The student who did a summer internship with us last year has got a job in her home country doing something very similar - well done Giselle!

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Repeat Business

Looks like I'm going to be progressing with that industrial effluent treatment plant job involving enzyme treatment. Should be interesting. The SCWO nanoparticle production plant design job is also progressing, and in with a chance of a second application of the technology (to industrial effluent treatment) elsewhere.

The Indian restaurateur seems to be making quite a bit of use of eco-label products, so I'm going to look at a few samples and see if I can break the remaining emulsion in his grease trap with a dosed chemical. Though we are now well outside the scope of my original order, I do hate to leave a job undone, even when the client will not follow the operating manual, as in this case.

The students are making fair progress on the troubleshooting problem. I'm quite impressed by the way they will rise to a challenge. 

Friday, 9 November 2012


I have a pretty much clear desk today as far as engineering consultancy is concerned. Reports and designs are all out and awaiting comment.

I'm expecting a call from site today to tell me if the sewage treatment plant at the Indian restaurant has started behaving now that the owner has started using eco-label products instead of the highly alkaline industrial cleaners he was using before. Initial anecdotal reports of absence of distributor blocking and clear effluent from the grease trap are hopeful.

My students at Nottingham have been set a knotty troubleshooting problem, but they seem to be rising to the challenge. More of the same for them next week, as we suspend normal lectures for week eight of the course for them to attempt a suite of practical problem solving exercises.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

X marks the spot

Technician holds bailer sample from borehole contaminated with hydrocarbons
I took a mixed group of third year Chem Eng and MSc Environmental Eng students out to carry out a site investigation this week, with the same interesting results as last year.

First I gave them a map of the site they were on, and asked them to place a cross on the map where they were standing. Results were better this year than last- three of 35 managed to put a cross pretty close to the right position. Last year it was zero. Our students seemed at the start of the exercise to lack a feel for mapping and relating real world features to drawings, which was much improved by the end.

The main exercises were a site investigation under a contaminated land protocol, and undertaking sampling of boreholes contaminated with  LNAPL (floating hydrocarbons). As before, students loved the hands-on experience, though some of the foreign ones found Nottingham in autumn a little nippy....